Milgard Family Foundation Makes $25,000 Gift to Summer Academic Challenge

March 13, 2013

Program improves access to college for students in grades 7–12

TACOMA, Wash. – The Gary E. Milgard Family Foundation has made a $25,000 gift to the Summer Academic Challenge program at University of Puget Sound, providing valuable help to pre-college students who wish to succeed in their academic careers.

The gift is a welcome resource to support the free summer math and science classes offered each year to 60 teenagers and pre-teens, many of whom are not typically represented in higher education. The Summer Academic Challenge is part of a wider Access Programs partnership with Tacoma Public Schools, which over the past 15 years has helped more than 800 young people gain the tools and confidence to complete high school and prepare for college.

“We are truly delighted to be able to partner with the university in offering young people the resources and knowledge for a successful start in their adult lives,” said Christine Zemanek, CEO of the Gary E. Milgard Family Foundation. “Pierce County is brimming with enterprising young people, and giving them a hand at a crucial time in their lives is as important to the community as it is to these students and their families.”

Each year local businesses and institutions contribute to the Summer Academic Challenge, allowing selected students in grades 7 to 12 to attend the 21 days of summer classes for no charge. The intensive classes are “hands-on” experiences involving work in the classroom, the lab, and the field. The same students are also served by the Access Programs partnership, which provides them with mentor-tutors, cultural and civic field trips, college success seminars, and visits to Puget Sound classes and events throughout their middle- and high-school careers.

“I would like to personally thank the Gary E. Milgard Family Foundation for their support of our efforts to ensure that the many promising students in Pierce County are assisted in fulfilling their promise and realizing their potential,” said Puget Sound President Ronald R. Thomas. “The Summer Academic Challenge and Access Programs have shown highly encouraging results in enabling young people from all backgrounds to accomplish amazing things, and we look forward to continuing this important work.”

Data collected by Puget Sound shows that Access Programs students in the high school graduating classes of 2011 and 2012 far exceeded expectations for their peers as a whole. Ninety-seven percent of them graduated from high school on time, compared to the 62 percent rate overall for Tacoma Public Schools. Currently 86 percent of the same students are enrolled in higher education, well above the near 50 percent figure for all American 18- to 24-year-olds who have completed high school. Access Programs students are from diverse cultural and racial groups, with 10 percent identifying themselves as white/Caucasian.

The university has been conducting the Summer Academic Challenge program since 1989. Teachers for the program are drawn from the university and from Tacoma Public Schools, while Puget Sound students serve as teaching assistants.

The Gary E. Milgard Family Foundation is a private philanthropic organization founded in Tacoma in 2000 by Gary and Carol Milgard and their three children, Cari Milgard-DeGoede, Lori Milgard-Rivera, and Mark Milgard. Emphasizing services for youth, families, health, education, military personnel, and animal welfare, the foundation is committed to giving back to the Pierce County community.

Press photos of the Summer Academic Challenge classes are available on request.

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